Which foods are GMO and which aren’t? It’s a question on the minds of many food shoppers these days and one that I decided to look into as a way to make certain for myself and others that the food we purchase is as clean as possible. Organisms genetically modified through science are known as GMO’s and they are created so the resulting crops can withstand repeated on-farm spraying of pesticides and herbicides, such as glyphosate, dicamba, 2,4-D and glufosinate, among dozens of others.
Since the introduction of new GMO strains over the last 10 years, the spraying of pesticides and herbicides on food crops has grown by more than 400 million pounds to combat newly resistant weeds. And so, the debate about GM foods centers on whether they are harmful not just to our health, but to the environment as well, since healthy food contributes to human health.
Unaware that most of the conventional foods we’ve been buying since the 1980’s was processed from genetically modified agricultural products and sprayed with chemicals, I now face daily decisions about the food I eat: continue these buying habits, or choose alternatives with my health and the environment as top priorities.
Here’s what I found. A short list of widely used ingredients that can be found in many conventional packaged and prepared foods, whether at my grocery store, or the restaurants I like to frequent. They’re all genetically modified and grown to withstand the application of weed killers prior to harvest.
In addition to its availability as a raw product, corn and it’s by-products are commonly found in 70% of the processed foods found on grocery shelves, including soup, tortillas, cornmeal, sodas, cereal, candy, cookies, and more. Sweeteners produced from corn include high fructose corn syrup, light and dark corn syrup, and glucose syrup. Since 90% of the corn grown in the US is GMO, you can expect that unless what you’re buying is certified organic, it has a strong chance it’s GMO corn or a byproduct.
Soybeans are sold in their raw state and in processed food, such as tofu, soybean oil, and soy milk. More than 90 percent of soybean crops in the U.S. are genetically engineered and sprayed during the growing season with the herbicide called Roundup.
Widely known for its use as a cooking oil, canola has earned the reputation globally as wind-blown and capable of growing in the wild, thereby contaminating non-GMO conventional and organic crops.
With 95% of the sugar beet crop in the US now being genetically modified to withstand applications of weed abatement chemicals, consumers can expect that more than 50% of the sugar found in non-organic foods will be by-products of modification and herbicide exposure. I love to bake and prefer to use organic sugar, so I switched recently to the Wholesome brand of organic cane sugar, and coconut palm sugar from Big Tree Farms which uses sustainable farming practices in Bali.
In 2013 a request submitted to the EPA by Monsanto for an increase in the allowable pesticide and herbicide residue levels in our food was approved. Choosing certified organic produce and GMO-free foods will increase the likelihood that the food we put on your family’s table will be free of GMO’s and the chemicals used by many American farmers…all in the name of weed control.
Read about the 7 Best Ways to Eat Organic on a Budget.